I’m pleased to announce the release of Inferno, the second book to my Destroyers series.
The first book of the series, Tempest, has sold over 6,000 ebook copies since its release in October, and was, in short, about a sixteen-year-old girl who learns she’s literally a human hurricane.
Here’s a brief description of Inferno: Ever since becoming leader of the human hurricanes called Tempests, 16-year-old Janelle is overdue for a vacation. But the trip to Hawaii quickly presents its own problems when she meets Kenna, a local sophomore who makes the volcano start rumbling when she’s nearby. So when Kenna gets kidnapped, Janelle has to find her. If she doesn’t, Kenna’s secret could mean the end of civilization and the death of everyone she loves.
You can check out Inferno here:
Barnes and Noble (Nook)
Also, I’d like to share the first chapter of Inferno here, for free:
Steam exploded up from the coast where the lava flowed into the ocean and formed the newest land in the world. If Kenna squinted, a reddish river came into view, cutting through the expanse of black rock. Miles away, vapor rose from the peak of Kilauea, the most active volcano on the island.
At the same time, sweat broke out around Kenna’s temples. She must be coming down with something, because her forehead felt like the surface of the hot ground. “No, not now.”
That wasn’t what she needed on her class field trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, her first ever, something she’d been looking forward to for weeks. This had better go away before she got sick on this day of all days. Anything that got her out of her parents’ house or away from the kids at school was worth not getting ill for.
Old lava crunched under her feet as she paced along the rope fence, weaving around tourists snapping pictures of the coastline. A lot of people were gathered here at this viewing area today, which the park rangers roped off years ago when a slow-moving lava flow finally buried the coastal highway.
It was Kenna’s first time getting to come here, though, or to the park, period. Unbelievable, since she’d lived right over in Hilo all her life. She had to be the only one in her class—no, her school—because everyone else stood around in groups, chattering, like they’d done this a million times and didn’t care anymore. Her parents never agreed to take her to see the volcanoes when she was little. They said it was too dangerous, even though this one really wasn’t with its slow-moving lava. You could even get close enough to lava flows to take pictures, if you were careful and knew where to go. Her class wasn’t even doing that, anyway—just the museum and the viewing area. Kenna had tried to pound that point into their heads about fifty times, permission slip in hand, but her mom still said no and went back to her phone call. It interrupted her studies, she said. It was a lame excuse. As usual, her parents just didn’t want her to do anything fun. It was a surprise if they let her out of the house half the time.
But they weren’t here now to ruin her experience, because Kenna had forged her mom’s signature on the permission slip.
Another plume of steam shot up from the coast, making her jump. Cameras clicked around her.
Kenna leaned over the rope fence to get a closer look, pulling her own camera out of her pocket. This was awesome. If her parents would ever get their noses out of work and bother to come here, they’d change their minds. She waited for another plume and click!—she now had some pictures to show Carlos when she got back to the school. They’d go on her hard drive for sure, as she had a feeling her parents wouldn’t let her come out here again until she graduated, if ever. Three years was a long time to wait.
“Oh, look. She’s daydreaming again.” A snotty voice echoed out behind her. Kenna tucked her camera away and whirled around. Great. Not them.
The Kissies stood there in their little group, clutching their purses tight to guard their cell phones and makeup. The head Kissie—Natalie—sneered at her and huddled in with her minions as if Kenna had the Ebola virus. Natalie considered all the plain girls like Kenna to have something along that line.
“No wonder she can’t get a boyfriend,” Natalie said to her cronies. “She’s always staring at the clouds or something.”
Kenna sighed. She wanted to say that Natalie couldn’t keep the same boyfriend for more than a week at a time, but as usual, the words wouldn’t come. Instead, she turned away from the Kissies and watched the distant stream of lava again. Cowardly, but it was best not to comment. All her years of dealing with girls like her had taught her that. Talking back just got you homework assignments that mysteriously went missing or something nasty written about you in every bathroom stall in school. If Natalie got bored enough, she’d go try to make someone else feel inferior because, after all, she was Queen of Hilo High.
Another plume of steam shot up from the ocean as lava poured into it. More camera clicks sounded around her.
One of Natalie’s friends—probably Lexie, her closest minion—spoke up. “She’s probably daydreaming about that Chess Club guy. What’s his name—Carlos?”
Heat crept up Kenna’s cheeks to join the fever already burning there. No. She wouldn’t let them get under her skin again.
Natalie raised her voice to address her subjects. “Carlos is a good kisser. Trust me on that.”
That was it. Kenna whirled around and faced Natalie as her fever shot up a few notches. She couldn’t help it. If Natalie was…if she was…
Kenna opened her mouth to say something crushing after all these years, but of course nothing came out. Natalie just smiled at her, that nasty, evil smile that warned of retribution if she even tried to say anything. It was the same smile she’d gotten before Natalie had shoved her into a trash can back in the third grade. The same one before her diorama of the Grand Canyon turned up shredded to pieces in her eighth grade science fair.
Every insult she’d built up for Natalie and the Kissies during her entire student career died in her throat.
The Kissies turned into a giggling mass and stalked off in the direction of the school bus. They knew she didn’t have the guts to stand up to them.
Once again, she’d let them win.
Kenna kicked at a piece of old lava, which went sailing past a limping woman with short brown hair—someone she’d seen walking past the high school a few times this week. The woman stopped to stare at her for a long time, her nose pointing at her like an accusing finger, so much that the back of Kenna’s neck started to prickle. Now people were staring at her temper tantrum.
She sighed and made her way over to the farthest reaches of the viewing area—farthest away from the Kissies and the staring woman. Natalie couldn’tbe dating Carlos. He wasn’t a jock or one of the rich guys, and he was the only thing that made school even a little enjoyable. Boys like him weren’t nobility like Natalie. But then again, she might be running out of hearts to break, too, as she’d already dated a good portion of the school’s male population. Kenna’s stomach churned at the thought.
A breeze washed over her skin with the salty smell of the ocean. She lifted her thick bangs and let it wash over her forehead. It brought the fever down a bit. No, Carlos wouldn’t date Natalie. He was too smart for that.
“Pretty cool, huh?”
Kenna jumped. A boy with an angular face and a strange mole on his nose stood next to her. His black bangs blew around in the wind as he leaned against the rope fence, taking in the lava river and the steaming ocean. He looked sixteen, maybe seventeen at the very most. No, sixteen—he had to be only a year older than her.
Next to him stood a guy in his twenties in a tank top and baseball cap. He looked Native Hawaiian, like her, but Kenna hadn’t seen him around the city before or anything. The older guy had a funny-looking gray spiral tattoo on his left arm. A girl at school, Anita Davis, had one just like it, but she kept it covered with long sleeved shirts ever since Kenna asked her where she’d gotten it.
A thought came to her: maybe she ought to answer this younger guy’s question.
“Yeah,”Kenna managed, staring out at the lava. She couldn’t stop staring at the older man’s gray spiral. Maybe the tattoo had some secret meaning that Anita wouldn’t tell her. “I…I was taking some pictures of it. The lava, I mean.” Geez, why couldn’t she make eye contact with strangers like a normal person?
“You from around here?” the boy asked.
Kenna’s heart raced. She forced herself to meet the boy’s gaze. He had gentle hazel eyes, and something about them made it easier for her to speak. “Yeah. I go to school in Hilo. I’m a sophomore.”
The older guy broke in. “Hey, I live in Maui. I flew over here for a party tonight.” He faced the boy and nudged him on the shoulder. “Remember. You need to tell me what it’s like later. I’m a little nervous as it’s coming up next week, you know?”
The boy nodded as if they were exchanging some secret they didn’t want Kenna to know about. “Don’t worry. Been through it two months ago. I will.”
“See you later.” The older guy tilted his hat and walked off towards a motorcycle parked at the edge of the viewing area.
“See ya, Randall.” The boy gave him a wave and turned back to Kenna. “Hey. My name’s Gary. What’s yours?”
Before she could answer, a figure in pink barged in front of her and shoved her back. Kenna had to grab onto the rope to keep from falling onto the hot ground. What now?
Natalie. She stood with her back to her, practically breathing in Gary’s face. She spoke in her annoying high-pitched voice, probably batting her eyelashes while she was at it. “Hey. What’s your name? What school are you from?” Kenna could almost hear what she was thinking at her: how dare anyone give attention to a slug like you.
Somewhere behind Kenna, the other Kissies giggled.
Kenna swore her fever shot up a few more degrees. It felt like some of that lava was flowing under her skin. Her forehead had more and more common with the inside of an oven. For a second she imagined shoving Natalie over the rope fence and into the stream of lava in the distance. Half the school would probably help.
The ground rumbled underfoot.
Kenna stiffened as her heart leapt into her throat. That couldn’t be good.
Everywhere, people stopped and silence fell. The Kissies’ group fell apart a bit. Gary took the opportunity to pull away from Natalie. His bangs flopped around on his forehead as he studied the black slope leading up to the volcano’s main vent.
As soon as the rumble came, it disappeared. People muttered amongst themselves and a nearby park ranger—a guy with a black, bushy mustache—lifted a radio to his face and said something into it, studying the land beyond the fence. That was ominous.
“What was that?” Kenna blurted, unable to help herself. She hadn’t expected to be feeling earthquakes on this field trip.
“Who cares?” Natalie’s rat face scrunched up as she faced her. “Why don’t you go somewhere and sulk like you always do? It’s not like anyone wants to talk to you, anyway.” She turned back to continue her assault on Gary.
Blood sang in her ears. Kenna so wanted to say something nasty, but that would just get Natalie and her minions on her back for the next month. She didn’t need nasty rumors spread about her again, so she turned away and gripped the rope so hard her knuckles turned a pale tan color.
There was a woman standing way out on the hardened lava.
Kenna squinted. Who’d be standing way out there? The rangers said there were dangerous fumes, and not to mention the lava itself. And she didn’t look like any park ranger. All stooped over, she wore a brown dress and shawl. A head of black hair topped a tanned, wrinkled face.
The woman raised her hand in greeting…and waved Kenna over to her.
Kenna released the rope fence and took a step back, catching her breath. That couldn’t be right. She’d never seen this woman before—and she had to be crazy, standing out there. From this distance, it almost looked like she was standing in the lava. A red glow throbbed and flowed around her feet. But nobody could do that without bursting into flames. She’d read somewhere that lava was what?—two thousand degrees?
Kenna shot a glance at the people around her. Tourist families jostled around each other for the best view of the exploding coastline. The park ranger had disappeared. The Kissies drew closer around Gary, leaving him no escape. Nobody except her had seen the woman.
Still, she had to tell someone. Anyone.
“Hey,”Kenna said, circling around the Kissies—no easy feat—and tapping Gary on the arm. “Someone’s out there.” She pointed to the fiery river in the distance and shielded her face from the sun to make out the old woman again.
She was gone. Impossible. Only the fiery river flowed for the sea. Stray fumes blew away in the wind, but there was no sign of a brown dress or a white shawl.
“What are you trying to do, Chomp?” Natalie asked, using her favorite name for every girl who wasn’t a supermodel. “You’re not wanted here.”
Gary blinked a bunch of times and stood up straight. “Hey, why can’t you leave her alone? And while you’re at it, why can’t you leave me alone, too?”
Natalie looked as if malls had been banned from the face of the Earth. “You’re no fun.” She shot her nastiest look ever at Kenna—and that was saying a lot. In other words, there was going to be some alcohol planted in her locker this afternoon and a tip to the office. Natalie waved to her minions. “Come on.”
The Kissies disappeared into the crowd. It was good riddance, and Gary had rejected Natalie. Smart. She could only hope Carlos was the same way.
But she had other things she needed to worry about, like that old woman.
“Thanks,”Kenna managed. “I was trying to get someone’s attention. I saw someone standing out by the lava.”
Gary squinted and studied the landscape. “Don’t see anyone. You sure?”
Kenna shook her head. There was no way that woman would’ve disappeared so fast, even if she fell in the lava. She would’ve screamed, at least. “I’m not feeling very good today. I think my fever’s messing with my brain.” That had to be it. Maybe all those vapors had just made her see things. There had to be rational explanation for it all. Everything could be explained…eventually.
“Hey, I’ve had days like that, too,” Gary said, staring at the school bus in the parking area. “Field trip?”
“This is my first time in Hawaii,” Gary said, staring at the ocean. “Not much different than where I’m from, though. Except the volcanoes. I’m only here because my girlfriend has a vacation home in Hilo. I’m staying here for a couple of weeks with her family. So far it’s been pretty cool.”
“Oh, there you are.” A skinny blond girl appeared out of the crowd and slipped her hand into Gary’s.
Somewhere inside Kenna, a balloon popped. She should’ve known he had a girlfriend.
Gary’s girlfriend seemed like any other normal sixteen-year-old girl, except for the fact that she was dressed like an executive.
She wore a lavender business suit with a cell phone clipped to the side of her slacks. Yes, a business suit. She looked very weird standing next to Gary in his T-shirt and baggy jeans. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Kenna couldn’t stop staring. Most adults didn’t even dress like that, and definitely not on vacation.
The girl’s eyes met hers. They were a weird gray color, a stormy gray, the same color as that older guy’s spiral tattoo. “My name’s Janelle.”
“Like the hurricane?” she asked. Only a couple of months ago, one of the same name had broken a bunch of records over on the Atlantic coast and forced people to evacuate from about a dozen states.
Janelle flinched as if someone had dumped ice water down her back. “Yeah.”
“I’m Kenna.” She could talk easier now that she wasn’t alone with this boy. “You’re the one with the vacation home?”
Janelle nodded. “I inherited it when my…my mom died and left me everything.” A choking sound escaped her throat, but she took a deep breath to clear it. “She…she made money off the stock market. Like a lot of it.”
“Sorry about your mom,” Kenna said. That had to be harsh. That still didn’t explain why she wore the suit, unless she’d inherited a company, too.
Janelle shrunk back a bit and swallowed, as if Kenna’s words had hurt her. “It’s okay. Really. I didn’t mean to get like that.”
The tone of her voice really said that it wasn’t okay at all. Kenna’s face grew hotter. Had she said something wrong?
“Why don’t you stand up to those girls?” Gary asked, apparently trying to change the subject. Good idea. “If I were you, I’d be replacing their lipstick with glue. Maybe then they’d shut up.”
Kenna laughed. She couldn’t think about Natalie unable to open her mouth and notlaugh. Even Janelle relaxed and cracked a smile. This guy was blunt in a funny way, and she liked that. “Oh, the Kissies? If I did that, I’d be dead. Their leader, Natalie, doesn’t—”
She stopped short.
The old woman stood out there again, closer this time, maybe only a couple hundred feet off. Deep wrinkles lined her face from decades under the sun. A smile grew across her features, a warm one that Kenna never saw at home. Behind her, vapor swirled into the air like the gate to another world. Once again she raised her hand and beckoned her over with a gentle wave.
Kenna jumped. “There she is!”
Gary and Janelle broke apart and whirled around. Janelle leaned over the fence, gripping the rope. “I see her. What’s she doing? Gary, we’ve got to get a ranger out there. She could get hurt.”
Gary ran off through the crowd just as the old woman wrapped her shawl around herself and hurried off, disappearing around a crusty hill. Kenna blinked. She was gone for the second time. “You see her?”
“Not anymore,” Janelle said, leaning against the ropes and squinting against the glare of the ocean. “Come on, Gary, hurry…” she muttered.
Kenna shook her head as her fever came back full force. The ranger had better get here soon. It looked like the old woman was headed right for the steam erupting at the shoreline. She fought the urge to jump over the fence and run out there herself, screaming at the woman to come back.
Footsteps approached from behind her. Janelle whirled around and Kenna started to follow, but too late. A pair of hands rammed into her, and hard.
Kenna cried out as she tumbled over the rope fence. One of her shoes popped off as her foot got caught on the rope. Pain erupted in her finger as she landed on her hands, but it was the only thing that stopped her from landing headfirst. Kenna rolled over on the crunchy ground, stood, and brushed herself off. The person who’d pushed her over the fence stood two feet away, searching the crowd for something.
Pink shirt. Bleached hair. It was Natalie. What a surprise.
She stood with the other Kissies, pointing at her and shouting at the top of her lungs. Janelle rushed over to break them up, but it was too late. “Ranger! Over here! She jumped the fence!”
Gary came running with a ranger right behind him—the one with the bushy black mustache—for a completely different reason. It was the worst possible timing. Heart racing, Kenna rushed for the fence to jump back over before she got in trouble. If she got caught, her parents would find out about this for sure.
The ground rumbled again, more this time. She stopped short.
The most horrible sound split through the air, making even Natalie shut up.
A loud, cracking noise.
Everyone froze again, mouths falling open. Gary and the ranger stopped. The Kissies broke apart, making squeaky noises. Janelle’s eyes grew big as her gaze fell to the ground near Kenna’s feet.
She looked down and her heart stopped.
The ground was splitting open right between her feet.
An inch. Two inches. The black line grew longer and opened up under the fence, going for the Kissies as an earthy groan filled the air. They screamed and backed away.
But Kenna didn’t have any time to laugh.
Heat bellowed up through the crack as it widened, wrapping around her skin and warping the air. Kenna’s legs felt heavy, ready to sink into the ground. The crack kept growing, opening like a gigantic mouth, threatening to swallow her.
And that wasn’t all.
Kenna’s mouth dropped open. No. It couldn’t be, not this far from the volcano’s main vent.
An orange glow lit the crack from below, growing brighter every second.
A new eruption was happening right under her feet.